our Wildlife

Wildlife depend on a healthy Wilderness

Unspoiled wildlife and habitat are inseparable from the idea of true Wilderness. The Boundary Waters is home to a distinctly healthy ecosystem of plants and animals. However, the impacts of toxic copper mining would forever damage this stability, leaving the area with fewer natural tools to fight climate change and one less refuge for otherwise threatened species.

Learn more below about the widespread disruptions that toxic copper mining would cause for the wildlife of the Boundary Waters.



The Boundary Waters and Superior National Forest are a designated Important Bird Area with more than 316 bird species detected and the highest diversity on earth of breeding warbler species.


The gray wolf is one of three federally threatened species (along with the Canada lynx and northern long-eared bat) that take refuge in the pristine waters and unspoiled forests of the Boundary Waters.


Nearly half of Minnesota's native fish species live in the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park, including the lake sturgeon and northern brook lamprey, two of the state's species of special concern.

Overlook of a lake in the boundary waters with trees beginning to change color.

A vital region for carbon sequestration

A vast boreal forest and network of wetlands thrives throughout the Boundary Waters. These forests play a crucial role in the fight against climate change by trapping carbon that would otherwise reach the earth's atmosphere.

The proposed copper mine near the Boundary Waters would be a greenhouse gas disaster. It would require as much power as the nearby 80,000-person town of Duluth, Minnesota, and it could cause long-term damage to natural carbon capturing. The destruction of natural carbon sinks in the area would release CO2 and reduce the capacity for future carbon sequestration.


A wolf stands and observes something off-screen

A shelter for endangered species

The Boundary Waters is home to three federally threatened species. The Canada lynx, gray wolf, and northern long-eared bat all rely on the thriving forests of the Wilderness for refuge. However, a proposed mine could further threaten these species.

Mine construction could lead to severe deforestation, making survival even more difficult for already-struggling species. This habitat destruction would irreversibly damage the ability of the Boundary Waters to harbor otherwise endangered species, which is seen as a critical need in the fight against climate change.

Overlooking a lake

A vast source of biological diversity

The Boundary Waters area is identified as a crucial landscape to conserving biological diversity in the face of climate change - but only because it is a large, healthy, intact ecosystem; any degradation reduces that capacity immensely.

In fact, the Boundary Waters is especially sensitive to the damage that a proposed sulfide-ore copper mine would cause. The area's water is very low in alkaline, meaning it has limited capacity to buffer the acid from a mine. Acid mine drainage would be disastrous to the water of the BWCA and the wildlife that depends on it. 


The wildlife of the Boundary Waters is as biologically diverse as it is divine. The Wilderness is home to the largest population of wolves in the U.S., as well as endangered species like the Canada lynx and gray wolf. Animals like moose, beaver, bears, deer, bobcats, distinctive fish and aquatic animals rely on the undisturbed ecosystems of the Wilderness for survival. When waterways are contaminated, it jeopardizes the entire ecosystem. The Twin Metals mine would severely impact this unique environment.

Loon with outstretched wings

Learn more about the ecological dangers of sulfide-ore copper mining in our resource library. 


Visit our Resource library